Name: Kofi Kankam
Profession: Entrepreneur – CEO of Admit.me
One Word That Describes You: Innovative
What does being one of the BEMM 100 Men of Distinction mean to you?
The recognition means that I am getting better at walking thru the doors that so many others have opened. As I’ve gotten older and seen opportunities that I have been given, I’ve been reflecting more on the sustained press that others (like my parents) have made to position me to do well. I’m thankful. Reflecting on BEMM, it’s also an immense honor because of the caliber of men that were a part of this list last year. Furthermore, it is an amazing completion of a circle that began when I was lucky enough to be recognized by Black Enterprise as a scholarship winner during my freshman year of college.
What are some examples of how you turned struggle into success?
Transforming Admit.me from an unknown company founded in a small apartment to be an entity accessed in over 15 countries has been a real journey of taking our struggling startup to one poised for strong success. The amazing path of this journey is that it is an arch that has been mirrored by our users. As we have gotten stronger and strengthened our core, they have also done so. For example, this spring, at a college fair we were cautiously approached by a father and son. The son had used Admit.me the previous year and it had successfully contributed to him overcoming confidence and guidance challenges to get into college. This fall he will hit campus. As Eric and I scale our own organizational hurdles, we are fueled by helping others transition from limited opportunities to their own successes. I am focused on ensuring this personal transition is bound to our community so that we will all prosper together.
What is an important quality you look for in your relationships with others?
Curious perseverance. Personally and professionally, I love being surrounded by people constantly asking “Why not” as opposed to “Why.” It’s such an important quality to challenge the status quo and test convention while being committed to being rigorous about fixing it. My friends, family, and colleagues who are like this have helped sharpen my ideas, prompted creativity, and made me feel like anything is possible.
What are some immediate projects you are working on?
I am moving to push Admit.me from our beta phase to full launch. Beyond raising my son and trying to be a great husband, this is my main effort. I’m also serving on the board of a few organizations trying to help mentor and mold as others have for me.
What is the best advice you ever received?
Pursue discomfort. It’s the only way to grow.
What is some advice you have for other men who want to make a difference?
Build somebody up, start now, start small if need be, and give your time. Be present. I struggle a lot with feeling like I’m not ready, not capable of really giving and making a strong impact. But, I realize that we cannot afford for a generation of us with lots to give to wait until we have “made it.” Right now, you are somebody that someone else needs.
How do you prep for an important business meeting and/or event?
I believe in practicing and being fluent with your game plan until it is second nature. I firmly adhere to knowing a pitch, your negotiating points, and the other party’s desires so well that you can critique and adjust your own behavior while you are actually doing it.
As a busy Modern Man, how do you unwind on vacation? Share a story about your best vacation.
I try to be present. If I’m at a dinner on vacation or the beach with my wife, that’s the only place I try to be. Not on my phone. I also like to daydream and just have unstructured time for most of my vacation. My best vacation memory was running on the Champs-Elysees in Paris really early in the morning up to the Arc De Triomphe and realizing I would be going to the French Open that day. My legs still felt a bit heavy, but it was pretty cool to think about how incredible a day it was going to be.
If you could travel and stay anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
I’d love to go to the World Cup for about a month, just about anywhere, but preferably in Latin America or Africa. Soccer is the world’s other unifying religion and I’m a believer.
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Pic Caption: Kofi Kankam, Entrepreneur – CEO of Admit.me, reading to son (on his lap) and children.